Tom Peterkin: Expect another year of flag-waving and constitutional wrangling

"Scolympian" Andy Murray with his gold medal. Picture: Ian Rutherford
"Scolympian" Andy Murray with his gold medal. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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LOOKING towards the new year, it is difficult to see how 2013 will avoid feelings of anticlimax following the remarkable events of 2012.

The sublime year of sporting success that saw the triumph of the Olympics, Andy Murray’s major breakthrough and an extraordinary Ryder Cup comeback will be hard to live up to.

It was also a year that – in Scotland at least – saw politics and sport become intertwined.

Perhaps that was inevitable, given the forthcoming independence referendum and the pride at the unprecedented success of the British Olympic team. As the medals tally rose and Scottish athletes contributed enormously to Team GB’s success, Alex Salmond’s “Scolympians” terminology began to look more and more out of touch.

Of course, the London Olympics will be a distant memory when Scotland goes to the polls in 2014. And it is difficult to imagine voters casting their minds back to 2012 when they enter the ballot box.

But there is no denying that sporting occasions and anniversaries will continue to be viewed by political classes through the prism of the constitutional question.

In 2014, the Glasgow Commonwealth Games and Gleneagles’ hosting of the Ryder Cup will take on a special significance, coming just before the referendum. As will the plans to commemorate the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn – a date of special significance for any proud Scot.

The plans announced by David Cameron to remember the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War will arouse a whole host of emotions.

Although 2013 promises to be more subdued, there are some events which could be tarred by a political brush.

The resurrection of the Scotland/-England football match will stir the patriotic blood, while the British and Irish Lions tour of Australia could reawaken the feelings of British unity.

As far as historical anniversaries go, 9 September, 2013, sees the 500th anniversary of the Battle of Flodden, the terrible battle between the Scots and English armies which cost 15,000 lives, wiped out the Scottish nobility and saw the death of the Scottish King James IV.

Earlier this week, leading Scottish business figures called on politicians to postpone their referendum campaigning until 2014 so that 2013 could be devoted to rebuilding the economy.

It was a noble thought. But the genie is already out of the bottle and almost every notable date in the calendar stands to be politicised. Shelving the independence debate until 2014 is impossible, especially when one considers that there is at least one event of true political significance – the publication of the Scottish Government’s white paper on independence.

Come what may, 2013 is already teed up to be another 12 months of fractious constitutional argument.